What is your opinion of Alberto Salazar as a coach? (Read 1624 times)

    Nobby, from the article I got the impression it was a pretty miserable experience for her.  Quite sobering really.  I seem to recall there was some talk on here about it at the time and I "we shall see" conclusion. 

     

    Well, I guess we saw...

    I remember a few years back when I talked to Keith and Kevin (Hanson) about Desi running shorter distances.  I believe she made the final in 3000 at the World Indoor.  It was pretty much a typical textbook case; they knew what she'd have to do, they worked on it, and it worked.  Of course, I don't think it was as easy as just running over a masking tape; it took a while...a lot whole!  But I believe it paid off; the results of her last 2 marathons show.  We (Greg and I) talked about this back in 2009 and he told me that they would make an attempt after the Worlds.  But he was a bit hesitant because, obviously, they had tried before and Paige just didn't react to it well.  She just came out very flat after the attempt and it had become a classic case of "weighing out" which is more important; work on her weakness and sacrifice other part of training; or stick with her strength.  Coaching an athlete is a lot more multi-sided than some people may think.  Above everything else, the athlete (in this case, of course, Paige) would have to feel good about it.  It's hard but she hadn't quite given up yet.  I think Bobbie McGee is working on her mechanics now and he's very good.  Of course, she didn't have a good showing at the Trial but she's seeking revenge at Boston in a few months.  So "we shall see"...

      Last week I was running my workout at the track, and at the same time there was a high school team there working out. This must have been one of their first track practices. The coach put heavy emphasis, all workout long, on proper footstrike. The coach had the runners lined up and would watch them and "correct" them if their heels seemed to be hitting the ground. It struck me as very odd since there was so much else that could be improved upon--and there seemed to me to be no conception by this coach that certain runners may be striking differently because of different strengths, weaknesses, balance issues, etc.

       

      This was just one slice of practice, so I probably shouldn't be so judgmental. But I thought, "Damn the marketers do have an effect. They are ruining my sport, making it about trivialities and amplifying insignificant details."

       

      Those kids needed to learn how to run hard, how to pace themselves. They needed to get fit, and they needed to learn how to compete. Sure, they also needed to learn proper form, but no one was talking to them about that; they weren't doing drills. Instead, they were running back and forth over 40m and consciously thinking about their footstrike. I seriously can't think of a worse way to introduce kids to the important elements of running or of teaching kids to run naturally. But this is what we are getting because of shoe company marketing.

       

      This thread is kinda like that track practice. 19 pages of running back and forth, thinking about inconsequential trivialities. It's a great way to waste time, but a bad way to make progress.

      I think a good example is Alan Webb.  Anybody who sees him running from the front can tell that he does NOT run on one line.  And anybody who sees him running from the front can tell that it's from his "structure"; he's got this weird X-leg knock-knee kinda legs that, I can tell, if he tries to run on one line, something else gonna screw up.  Concept is nothing but a painted cake on paper.  While I think it's important to "understand" correct running technique when they are young; that would have to be taken into consideration with all the other elements, like you had pointed out a few.

       

      I might have shared this story here before; there was this young girl who got so scared of running because the head coach kept drilling this "ideal" running form which she had a hard time understanding in her head.  She developed this weird nerve disorder that, as she tried to run at all, one of her legs just collapsed.  She had become such a head-case with her form.  At any rate, I quit the job, went back home...which happened to be less than a mile from this famous PT institute.  The head coach called me one day and told me they were sending her there and asked me if I wouldn't mind helping her out.  At any rate, so she's supposed to be unable to run at all.  I took her out and took her to this muddy rice field.  We ran for an hour.  I asked her afterwards how her leg was.  She looked at me, dumb-founded, and said, "I forgot about it..."  Next day, I took her to the beach and took off our shoes and ran barefoot, jumping over a tree stomp and through the waves...  Again, she was having too much fun running like that she completely forgot about "form" and, therefore, her "disorder" never even came across her mind.  

        I might have shared this story here before; there was this young girl who got so scared of running because the head coach kept drilling this "ideal" running form which she had a hard time understanding in her head.  She developed this weird nerve disorder that, as she tried to run at all, one of her legs just collapsed.  She had become such a head-case with her form.  At any rate, I quit the job, went back home...which happened to be less than a mile from this famous PT institute.  The head coach called me one day and told me they were sending her there and asked me if I wouldn't mind helping her out.  At any rate, so she's supposed to be unable to run at all.  I took her out and took her to this muddy rice field.  We ran for an hour.  I asked her afterwards how her leg was.  She looked at me, dumb-founded, and said, "I forgot about it..."  Next day, I took her to the beach and took off our shoes and ran barefoot, jumping over a tree stomp and through the waves...  Again, she was having too much fun running like that she completely forgot about "form" and, therefore, her "disorder" never even came across her mind.  

         

        That is a great story, Nobby. It reminds me of a similar story about girl like this on a team I was helping out with this fall. She had this weird habit of letting her left arm "drop" as she ran, and she would lean to the side. She also happened to be our best runner. She didn't realize she was doing it, but it would get more pronounced in races and harder workouts.

         

        She was totally unconscious of it, and we were afraid to "fix it" too much because she was running well anyways. After some reflection and thought about why she was doing it, she realized she was doing it as a practice of concentration. She would drop her arm as a way of cueing her body to relax. And I believe that one reason she ran so well--especially in big races--was because of this form "tic"--which is actually a really nice and pretty advanced way of staying mentally focused.

         

        Now that we understand the "cue," we are working on keeping it, but perhaps refining it in a way that doesn't cause her to lean over, but if we had tried to eliminate it from the outset, we wouldn't have been able to understand its function in her own running and maybe would have taken away what made her a great runner--her ability to relax.

          Nobby and Jeff, you are clarifying what I was trying to say:  It's a lot more important to be able to stay relaxed and natural as you run; If you can do that, the body will assume pretty much optimal form on its own.  When you start messing with it, you're probably going to make things worse by pushing into your conscious mind what should be handled unconsciously.

           

          Coaching an athlete is a lot more multi-sided than some people may think.

           

          And this. A good coach needs a very broad outlook with their students: Who they are, how they think, what's going on in their lives, where they come from, where they are, and where they are wanting to go, what motivates them, how they respond to training, how they respond to competition, and, oh yeah, how they look when they run. I'm sure I left out a lot of things, too.  Tunnel vision doesn't to cut it in a coach.  You two obviously know that very well.

          Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

            Those videos of Paige Higgins are extraordinary- even at full speed she will not lift her knees!

            Toes turned out, hands crossing in front of her, weird all round.

             

            Contrast with the video of Matt Centrowitz at the indoor meet recently posted on Youtube, or Ryan Hall, or Grete Waitz-  what a difference!

            PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.

             

              This is a good article about the "attempt" to change runner's form: http://www.runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=20506  I know both of them and I talked to Greg about this quite extensively and, like you said, it ain't easy and it ain't just "form".  It involves a lot more than just "form".  Paige struggled with this a lot more than most people realize.  In other words, it's not that "easy" in real life.

               

              She looks tough, but rather tense as she runs, in both the "before" and "after" videos, as if she's not really letting herself go. I can't find a date on those articles. Any idea?

              Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

                She looks tough, but rather tense as she runs, in both the "before" and "after" videos, as if she's not really letting herself go. I can't find a date on those articles. Any idea?

                 

                Honestly, I didn't think there was much of a difference between the before and after. 

                 

                She still crossed her arms in front of her body quite a bit, and seemed to shuffle (very little knee lift).

                 

                But, I don't claim to be an expert on running form, or what's good or bad. 

                  Just came across this footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6PTYqNblnE&feature=related

                   

                  About 4:50 into it, you can see the Korean guy and the Japanese, Morishita (actually, later the late Wanjiru's coach) running side-by-side.  The Korean guy's swinging his arms wide, his shoulders up and tense, his right arm swinging wider...  On the other hand, Morishita is a stylist; a beautiful and smooth runner.  Guess which one came out as a victor?